Four reasons why every startup, early- or later stage, should join a professional accelerator program
The number of startup accelerators has increased rapidly over the past years. The first one was founded in 2005, and now 135+ accelerators are helping startups to do more, faster. Over the past years they have contributed greatly to the economy, according to research done by Jed Christiansen they have boosted the economy with a staggering 1.6 billion dollars raised, 4800 jobs created, and 2000 startups funded. In the past, most startups that participated were early stage companies. However, a new trend is emerging. Over the last year the number of later stage startups that apply is increasing exponentially.
At Startupbootcamp we see more and more later stage companies, founded by 2nd- and 3rd time entrepreneurs, apply for our programs. Entrepreneurs that have had successful exits, or running startups that already generate revenue and consist of 6-10 employees. As a founder of a later stage startup you might wonder: why would I apply for a startup accelerator if I already have a product beta version, some revenue, and my own office? Am I not too far advanced for an accelerator? Those are valid questions. Be that as it may, I believe that every startup can be accelerated if the core team wants to be. And I believe that participating in a startup accelerator can be just as helpful for a later stage company, as it is for an early stage startup. Here’s why:
As a true entrepreneur you are always looking for new challenging opportunities for business. You aim to innovate, are open to change, and seek to disrupt markets. You will grab on to a chance if it arises, as you are always looking for the next big thing; it’s in your DNA. However, successful entrepreneurship is built on strong networks. And the fact that you already have had successful exits and businesses doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the right network for the business you are currently working on. So if you aim to launch a business in a different industry, or if you want to expand internationally, the network that an accelerator can provide could be very useful to you. Most accelerators run programs in different countries, and have a network of international mentors, investors, partners, clients, and alumni. This could provide immense value if you seek to scale up globally, as the networks allow you to access people from all over the world. So if your goal is to cross your country’s borders, joining an international accelerator is the first step. Moreover, if you need a meeting with an executive from a big corporate, an accelerator can ensure you’ll have that meeting in the near future, rather than in two months. They are usually very well connected and can open doors for you that you could never open by yourself.
2. Pressure Cooker
Acceleration can be defined as: ‘increasing the rate of change’. Plainly said: it means becoming better, faster. During your participation, the accelerator will function as a pressure cooker, allowing you to achieve more for your business in 3 months than you would on your own in a year. This does require total commitment; a tremendous dose of passion, and the determination to do everything it takes. If you have the right attitude, your months at the accelerator can be the most effective in your life. You are working towards one big goal: Demo Day and you’re doing this together with other like-minded entrepreneurs. Peer-to-Peer mentoring is an important part of an accelerator, and working in a dynamic and energetic environment is stimulating everyone. A big part of the program is running pilots with customers. Later stage companies profit from the fact that their product is already live, so they can run pilots and get traction in their market. As Geoffroy Simon, co-founder and COO of TagTagCity, one of our later stage startups, explains: “We joined Startupbootcamp and gave away a share of our company which was already break-even at that point time. Why? Because it saved us one year in development and this is priceless in our industry”.
Participating in a startup accelerator can be compared to an MBA in entrepreneurship. You’ll have the opportunity to attend workshops from top-level experts regarding every possible challenge your startup may face. Whether you are interested in UIX, marketing, PR, Sales, Pitching, Web design, Business Models, Convertibles, Legal, Scrum, Agile, or one of the other topics, you are presented with the opportunity to become skilled in the subject. So you can customize your ‘education’ based on the needs you have and the stage you’re in.
Most accelerators have an extensive alumni network, consisting of later stage startups. These alumni are usually in close contact with the accelerator, which means the accelerator has some experience in working with later stage companies. At Startupbootcamp our alumni visit us regularly and help our startups with diverse needs they have, which allows our startups to learn from later stage companies who have wandered the same road they did. This can prevent the startups from making the same mistakes their peers did; it makes them more effective and smarter.
To conclude, I personally think that every company can always improve, no matter what stage you are in. At Startupbootcamp we aim to help you with whatever challenges you face at that time, regardless if you’re an early- or later stage company. We want to help you achieve more for your business, you can decide what ‘more’ means to you. As long as you are open and willing, together we can shorten your roadmap and accelerate your business.